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Izmit

IZMIT

IZMIT , port on the Sea of Marmara, in the Kocaeli Province, Turkey; in rabbinic literature its name appears as Isnimit, while its older Turkish name was Izniknid and its Greek name is Nicomedia. Its Jewish community has a long history and is first mentioned in various sources in the sixth century. The Karaite philosopher *Aaron b. Elijah (d. 1369), known as "Nicomedio," lived in Izmit. It is probable that the Karaites appeared in Nicomedia already before the 14th century, although no documentary or literary confirmation is as yet available. In the 16th century several families of Jewish refugees from Spain settled in Izmit, and in the middle of the 17th century there were about 60 Jewish families there. During the Ottoman period the Jews lived in a special quarter, known as Yahudi Mahallesi. The community had its rabbinical court, a synagogue and religious school, and two cemeteries. Some of the Jews engaged in petty trade, while others were artisans, working in silk, wool, cotton, glass, and pottery. In the 17th century emissaries from Ereẓ Israel visited the community and the local Jews turned with their halakhic questions to *Istanbul and *Salonica, especially to Rabbi Moses *Benveniste and Rabbi Ḥayyim Sabettai. There is some information about Jewish courts of law in 1622 and 1635. Rabbi Abraham Donozo served the community in 1635–70. According to censuses 199 Jews lived there in 1893, 428 in 1912, and 512 in 1911–12. The last rabbis of the community from 1911 were Abraham Habib, Daniel Tazartes, and Raphael Tazartes. In 1919, when the Greeks invaded western Anatolia, most of the Jews took refuge in Istanbul. The remaining Jews fled in 1921, when a great fire raged in the town, and Jewish settlement in Izmit came to an end.

bibliography:

A. Galanté, Histoire des Juifs d'Anatolie, 2 (1939), 262–4; Z. Ankori, Karaites in Byzantium (1959), index. add. bibliography: A. Galanté, in: isis, 1:88; 4:225–28, 300, 338; J. McCarthy, in: A. Levy (ed), The Jews of the Ottoman Empire (1994), 380, 382, 392.

[Abraham Haim /

Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky (2nd ed.)]

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